Donna Toscana Chocolates

Donna Toscana Chocolates are the creation of Diane Pinder, a chocolatier who lives in my town.  I first tasted her chocolate in 2005 when she opened a retail store in town.  I was hooked before my first bite.

When we walked into the store, we saw chocolates in a glass window display with flavors that sparked the imagination.  Olive oil and sea salt, balsamic, chipotle to name a few.  Not your typical Hershey’s chocolate for sure.

I’m not a chocolate aficionado.  Frankly speaking, I could care less whether I’m munching on a Hershey bar or a Godiva truffle.  Still, I loved the concept behind the Donna Toscana Chocolates.  Blending what most people would consider weird ingredients with chocolate elevated eating chocolate into an adventure.

Will the chipotle chocolate burn my tongue?  Will I be able to taste the martini infused into the chocolate?  Can blue cheese and chocolate really work well together?

When Diane closed her retail store to take advantage of an opportunity to expand her business, my whole family was sad.  In 2008, she had converted her store into a lounge where we could not only enjoy her chocolates a la cart, but other fabulous desserts as well. Her fondu with homemade marshmallows was to-die-for.

Mostly, we missed being able to eat her chocolates, one adventure at a time.  I’ve mentioned before that we’re not a huge chocolate consumers.  A whole box of chocolate would normally take us months to finish.

Several weeks ago, I received a free box of Donna Toscana Chocolates.  Hand-delivered by the owner, Diane Pinder herself.  All because I participated in a Donna Toscana chocolate giveaway that I didn’t win.

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So, how did I get a free box?

The owner’s son followed my comment back to my blog, read my pitiful stories about the tough adoption transition and concluded that I deserved a box of chocolates.  He didn’t actually say that.  He asked if I would like to try the olive oil and sea salt flavor since I never got to try it (the giveaway asked that we comment on the flavor we want to try) and they would ship me a box for free.

Heck yeah!  Not only had we run out of chocolates from the basket my friend sent, but I could really use some thing exciting in my life even if only in the form of chocolate.

Diane hand-delivered these herself and she wrote out the flavors.

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The olive oil and sea salt chocolate that I never got to taste before the store closed.

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I bit into it with anticipation and a little trepidation. I love olive oil. I love sea salt. I love dark chocolate. Will I love them combined? After all these years of waiting and I wasn’t disappointed. The crunch of the hard outer chocolate layer gives way to the rich creamy center that is balanced by a hint of salt from the sea salt crystals.

D’s favorite was the strawberry jelly with the cute shoes imprinted.  Mine was the salted caramel and the pistachio brittle.  S doesn’t have a favorite because… well… we kept these selfishly to ourselves.

If you like chocolate and adventure, go check out Donna Toscana’s.  Now, you can buy them online.  Or check here to see if there is a retail distribution store near you.

This is not a paid advertisement nor was I promised the free chocolate for a positive review.  In fact, I didn’t have to write about the chocolates at all.  When Diane stopped by with the chocolates, she told me that her son read some of my posts and was touched by all the stuff going on in my life.  He felt that I could really use a pick-me-up.

I genuinely enjoy the chocolates, but more importantly I admire the woman behind them. Diane Pinder is a woman who gave up a pretty successful mainstream career in nursing/healthcare to follow a dream to create unique chocolates.  It is an inspirational story.  I remember stopping by her store, wishing I could intern with her.  It was at a time when I was incredibly unhappy with my career.  Even now, I wish I could find something to be passionate about like she did.

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